(…because several asked to see the prayer bench…it’s pretty simple…like an Ann without an e)
Light’s already bleeding through at the edges when I get there.
And in a bit, in the glowing, fingers find leather bookmark, and eyes find passage, and heart finds it’s way home.
I linger there. Verses from Philippians push back the dark; light.
“Morning, Kai.” I smile blessings upon this child.
He slowly grins, shaking off the last remnants of sleep.
“You want to come pray with me?”
I love how he says that word, soft and lisped and waking, “sure.”
He comes, bare toes padding across the floor, twines fingers through my outstretched ones, bows too.
And softly we pray Jesus’ words, the prayer He gave to His followers, a prayer that I want this boy to make his own.
“Our Father who art in heaven…”
He elongates “daiiiiiily bread” and stumbles over “trespasses” and punctuates “Amen” with a definite nod of the head. And then, as softly as he came, he’s gone, tip toeing across kitchen, back door squeaking open. Hens and eggs and a dawning day beckon a boy.
Prayer goes with him.
From prayer bench edge, by this altar of windows, I watch him go. This, this makes me smile. And it’s more than the bare feet washed in dew all the way to hen house. It’s this one-piece cloth I’m bent over on life’s loom. Sure (ah, that happy word again), sure, I’m tangling, and snipping, and botching, but that’s the pattern for this life, just a one-piece cloth.
No scraps of secular and hallowed stitched haphazardly together.
Like Jesus’ own garment, I’m committed to weaving a one-piece life without seams. Why do we live as if God can be hemmed in, cut off and compartmentalized from all the other pieces of our lives? He, silver and ecliptic, threads through. All is sacred because God imbues all. Heaven can’t contain Him.
Following a similar strand, we built an open-concept home. Walls only surround bedrooms, restrooms. All other space flows into the next place, fluid. Kitchen open to dining, open to hearth seating circle, open to study space. There are no artificial delineations, no compartmentalizing. We spill.
When building, we drafted out areas for necessary domestic functions: a nook for laundering, an open space for cooking, for reading, for writing, for gathering. But what of the apex of household functions? Jesus reminds, “My house shall be a house of prayer.”
Yes, certainly: we wanted our house to be His house. A dwelling place for God. But He makes it clear: He only takes up residence in praying houses, hearts.
That little ditty played in my head every time I looked at the blueprints: A place for everything and everything in its place. We had drawers for plates, closets for coats, shelves for books. (And, just this week, a designated hook for the egg basket, replete with signage, and Kai smiles.) But if this home would be a dwelling place for Jesus, where exactly was the place to pray in this house?
Everywhere. We’re to pray everywhere, without ceasing. Obviously, our prayers are not confined to a geographical location. Don’t we communion with Him everywhere, with this God who’s glued to us, won’t leave us or break away? So I wondered: was having a designated place for prayer implying that we could confine God? That we could tie Him up into one containing square, and freely (miserably) weave up the rest of life, unfettered?
Not if He radiated from the center. What if we had a place for prayer that could be seen when standing at the back door, the front door, the kitchen sink? An inner sanctuary without walls. A place of prayer with no borders. Not a snipped off place, or a seamed pocketed place, but a central, open space that invited each family member to invite God into all of life.
A place for God and God in every place.
It’d be simple. A gift chest, a present from Farmer Husband; a storing place for hopes and tears and silence before God. It’d be low, so we’d humbly kneel and look up, a posture for living.
It’d be a space for an open Bible, a candle, a journal, a few hymn and prayer books.
It’d be like others’. John Piper writes,
“…when we bought our first home, I built a prayer bench with a place for my elbows in a kneeling posture, and a place for my bible to lie, and a shelf underneath for the Bible or other books and a notepad… There the prayer bench welcomes me every morning and several times during the day. God alone knows the tears and songs that have mingled there. I urge you to think creatively.
Seriously consider building a place of prayer…”
We did. Just a small meeting place to gather and meet God when day and relations and soul are fraying. A place at the center to remind us of He who’s the center.
An open sanctuary, right in the midst, that offers some inner-still in a loud, crazy house. I throw myself down here often after lunch, pray for strength to get through… And it’s even much worse when I don’t bow low and cry out.
~prayer bench from kitchen sink~
A place for God and God spilling into every place. Wouldn’t that be the weave of a one-piece life?
Egg basket in hand, Kai’s running back now across dew-dangled grass, through that light warming the world. I smile, stand, and candle flickers on prayer bench, a flame for the hours, a quiet, tireless reminder to pray without ceasing, to make this wild, messy house His.
Light of the World warms and day begins.